THOBES & ABAYAS by Loai & Mona

Growing up in the Caribbean in a port city, (Barranquilla, Col.), and spending time in the Mediterranean at another port city during vacations (Sevilla, Spa.), allows yo to see the world by stepping out, and taking a simple stroll down the port to see the ships coming from all over the world.

One of my mother’s favorite trips,  – when I was a kid – , was to grab myself and my sister, and go exotic fabric hunting to the shops next to port, where piles, and piles, of fabric  were getting unloaded, and samples passed along to whomever was present. Rolls, and rolls of exotic fabrics were getting ready to be displayed to be seen by whole sales buyers, store buyers, distributors, and curious people like the three of us.

The long narrow rows of fabric stores ,next to the port, were owned by people from different nationalities, and my mother knew who was who and who had the best fabrics, so the trip had a very specific schedule. Wools by the Italians, cottons by the Egyptians, linen by the Iranians, simple non-printed silks from the Indies, or the Pakistani, printed silks from the Chinese, Vietnamese or Japanese , or the beaded ones from the Kuwaitis or the Lebanese store owners, that received the brand new rolls and goods from miles and miles away.

All this incredible display of people from all latitudes, brought with them to the little port their customary attire, as well as the exotic attires heir wives wore. A question that remains in my head is that how come, them and not their kids?, yes, those  kids my sister and myself played with while mom shopped? – perhaps they were part of the intercultural kind and were adapting to the new world? or were melding within our society?, that is a conversation that remains unanswer.

To me, “thobes” robes and “abayas”  robes were garments I grew up with, but were “thrones the ones I felt were o elegant.

Traditional Thobe.jpg

Somehow I knew that the Arabian Peninsula friends used them, and somehow I knew that they were a very comfortable, yet elegant piece of clothing. They were generally cotton, or linen, but I remember also seeing some on a very thick material, similar to Jacquard?

Moving to the Sonoran desert, and to the modern sprawling cities that are part of Phoenix Metropolitan, leave you a bit out, and away of the pedestrian mass, and walkable cities, in addition of not having sea port, it makes you feel sometimes isolated.

The only option to get acquainted to my extent, is to know someone that has traveled or have lived a life similar to yours full of cultures from the Middle East to understand the differences of this garment,  that changes depending of which middle eastern country you are part of.

How do you know the difference?

Well it is not that easy for us, westerners,… Slowly you learn to make a difference of where the person you see to talk to is specifically from.  The key resides on their head piece that compliments the robe garment, or “kanduras”.

I found this graphic on the internet that  helps to clarify the difference – perhaps, at some point Lin life, and growing up, I had this graphic memorized, not any more, but here it is;

Head Piece Saudi Peninsula.png

This upcoming Thursday, August 3rd at The Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, I will have the great honor to host a close talk and conversation with a very well known Saudi fashion designer, and his wife that are changing the traditional Thobe and Abayas, by giving them a touch of modernism.

RSVP by using this address on your browser;

Oscar Saudi Flyer 1080x1080

This now entrepreneur in the world of fashion was some point the creative director of a local advertisement agency,  In Riyadh (S.Arb.). His first steps within the world of fashion design was by simply designing thobes for his close friends at home, in the basement. A very small made to measure practice, that increased exponentially, and eventually took it’s own life, making him to change his professional practice from graphic design to fashion design.

Today  Mr. Loai Naseem , is a well known fashion designer, business man, and is the  owner of his own brand, with a very elegant name; LOMAR.


The success of the firm has given him the opportunity to be recognized as one of the most talented and successful entrepreneurs within the world of design.4



Mr. Lomar will be in town with his lovely wife Mrs. Mona Al Haddad this week, and on Thursday afternoon, we will be enjoying his company and learning more about his very successful design company, one that has created a new look to a traditional garment,  and even a modern style to the traditional Thobe.

Business Strategies of Lomar Thobes – My Favorite.jpg



The line has changed the style in so many ways, that new colors have been added, and many materials are part of the new fashion expression;



These fashion editorials and catalogues of the design fully in black are an example of the quality of material and minimal design;




Now, the company is blending into a lifestyle experience, with the idea to even produce it’s own furniture line.

Mr. Nassem says;

 – “We wanted to show that we care about design and we are a design company, not a thobe company.”


A powerful statement that once again, proves that design covers so many levels of life, and to attest, that an idea  of how a concept can become a lifestyle.

I am very excited to the host of this very interesting event, so see you then Thursday, from 5:30pm to 8:00pm/

Western Flyer

Always in style,


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